We All Need One – Friends and Flashlights

George Simmons, Ginger Vieira, Scott Johnson

George, Ginger, Scott

I was going to use “We All Need A Ginger” for my title, but I wasn’t sure how that would come across…

In my case, I’m talking about Ginger Vieira, and there’s no substitute for her. But if you can’t get yourself a Ginger (Vieira!), then a good friend will do just fine. Either way, you need somebody, and I’ll explain why.

Late in 2011 I started looking for a church to attend. Earlier in the year, a good friend, and pastor, lit the fire for Christ in my life. Just months later he was tragically taken by lung cancer. It happened so fast. As I continued the journey he started me on, I knew that one of the next steps was to find a church to belong to. It doesn’t bother me to say that his church didn’t do it for me.

So I spent a few months visiting a number of local churches trying to find a good fit. During one of the visits I listened to a message that made me think of Ginger. This message made me think about how much I appreciate her, value her skills, and treasure her friendship.

This message was all about cleaning out the garage, and like many church messages it was heavy in metaphor. This pastor was talking about doing spring cleaning in the garage. His regular ways would have him grab the giant push-broom and do a few circuits of the floor, getting the big dirt out of the main areas. He’d do these big sweeps and call it clean.

He ignored the crevices and corners of his garage because they were the scary parts. Dark and dim, potentially full of big, scary spiders and insects, and who knows what else. If he ignored these areas he wouldn’t have to face the scary things that have been swept aside and ignored.

But his wife’s tools of choice were a small broom, a dustpan, and a flashlight. She would inspect the dark and scary corners, which, when illuminated and examined, really weren’t that scary after all.

This got me thinking about working with Ginger (after I was done thinking about Jesus 🙂 ). For many areas in my diabetes life we were digging into some scary things. And just as I was ready to turn away and ignore the mess, Ginger would hand me a big spotlight and put her hand on my shoulder. She let me know I wasn’t alone in examining that corner of my garage.

Many of the messes are still there, as it’s taken a lifetime of sweeping things aside to make them what they are today. But Ginger has helped me chip away at some of the fear involved in self-inspection, which has gotten me started on cleaning the mess rather than adding to it.

For that I am forever grateful.

A friend and a flashlight is sometimes all it takes to push through a fear that is holding you back.

The “Scott” Process

I have been working with Ginger for over thirty-eight weeks now, and my weekly coaching sessions have become very important to me.  I need them as bad as I need my basketball and exercise time.  I need them almost as bad as I need my insulin and CGM.

Through all of this time and all of the little steps we are making towards my goals, we have recognized a “change process” that I unconsciously follow.

Scott notices a “problem” in his lifestyle or habits that he knows logically he “should” want to change. As Scott considers what it would entail to actually make these changes in his life, he gets overwhelmed or intimidated by the idea of making such drastic changes. He knows he should for the sake of his health and happiness, but he doesn’t want to. As Scott steps back from actually committing to making those changes, he still exposes himself to new knowledge and research around those topics. He dabbles in new foods, dabbles in new exercise routines at his own pace. Over time, Scott makes a transition naturally to those changes because he’s chosen to make those changes in his own time.

Ginger recognized this pattern of mine and put it into words.  The first time I heard it I was mesmerized.  It is a very dense paragraph, and it seemed so full of truth.  I had to let it all sink in for a minute, then I said “YES!! – that is EXACTLY how it seems to be for me!”.

Let’s break it down a little bit.

Scott notices a “problem” in his lifestyle or habits that he knows logically he “should” want to change.

For example, I know I should eat better, but I don’t want to change my diet.  Or I know I should drink less Diet Coke, but I don’t want to drink less Diet Coke.  Change is easier when you really want something.  When you want it, you find ways around the challenges and obstacles.

As Scott considers what it would entail to actually make these changes in his life, he gets overwhelmed or intimidated by the idea of making such drastic changes. He knows he should for the sake of his health and happiness, but he doesn’t want to.

Ever get overwhelmed when looking at what you think is a major life change?  That’s pretty normal, right?  If you’re anything like me you will jump too far into the change process, thinking you have to make drastic, quick, radical changes.  Of course, those types of changes will be overwhelming! Duh!

As Scott steps back from actually committing to making those changes, he still exposes himself to new knowledge and research around those topics. He dabbles in new foods, dabbles in new exercise routines at his own pace.

The key things here are 1) exposure and 2) at my own pace.

Over time, Scott makes a transition naturally to those changes because he’s chosen to make those changes in his own time.

That exposure, at my own pace, let’s me experiment with slow change without that hard commitment and deadline.  As I learn more about what I’m working on, and start to experience some positive feeling from doing good for myself, I begin to want that change.

It starts slow.  It starts from the inside.  I like to think of it as “planting a seed of change” inside me.  It doesn’t go from a seed to a giant tree quickly.  It takes time, patience, and nurturing.

Life throws a mess of trouble at me sometimes, and I feel that I have to tuck into my protective shell to get through the shitstorm.  When that happens, all “forward progress” work stops, and I even take a few backward steps.  Maybe even a lot of backward steps?

But that little seed of change is a persistent little guy once it starts growing.  Once things settle down I feel drawn to start working again.  Once I start working again, it doesn’t feel I’ve lost as much ground as my mind would have me think.

I hope that sharing this is of some help to some people – it was pretty enlightening to me.  It also made me feel perfectly comfortable with slow change.

Ginger would tell you that this is exactly what her coaching is all about.  Change from the inside out.

 

Disclaimer: I don’t feel comfortable touting Ginger’s awesome coaching abilities without disclosing that I am not paying cash for her coaching services.  If I had to though, I would pick up another part-time job to pay whatever she wanted to charge me.  Millions even.  She is very skilled at this, and I’d be lost without it.

 

I Feel Amazing!

I exercised today for the first time in a long time.  It sucked hugely while I was working out, and I hated almost every second of it (ok, it wasn’t THAT bad).  I’m very sure I will hate it even more when I wake up tomorrow morning (or is it the second day soreness that is the worst?).

But, I felt AMAZING the rest of the day!  I swear, I got more done today after exercising first thing, than I’ve accomplished in the past week combined.  I could literally feel my mood improving.  I felt the urge to be productive again.  Obstacles that seemed like show stoppers last week felt a little smaller today.

I was at the gym for barely over an hour total, that includes both changes (into and out of workout gear), showering, and finding equipment and space at a YMCA that I’ve never been to before.

I could not believe how different I felt today.  Why do I ever stop exercising?

Thank you to everyone that offered inspiration and advice – I put it to use today!  I’ll tweet ya from the gym as soon as I get there tomorrow.    I owe a special thanks to Ginger, who broke off a little slice of her time to give me a starting exercise plan.  Thanks G!

ImAwesome